Distance: 109.8 miles
Avg. speed: 15.73 mph
Weather: 37-71º, humidity 93-38%, calm-SW1
Song stuck in head: Old Style - Orbital
September mileage total: 377 miles
Been a busy week and had no time or inclination to make posts about the last two modest workout rides of 30 and 18 miles before today.
Roughly the one-year anniversary of my first century, last year's CRW Fall Century, I was looking forward to besting my performance from last year where I spent the last 25 miles wishing it was over. I felt like I had the right amount of training and rest under my belt and the bike was tuned up nicely. One chink in the armor was that I didn't get a very good night's sleep last night.
It was VERY cold this morning as I rode up to Acton-Boxboro High School to meet some other folks and start the ride. I decided against any leggings as I knew I'd want to take them off not long after the start and did not want to have to figure out a way to carry them. I did have on a medium weight base layer, arm warmers and some thin booties that are great at blocking the wind.
At the high school, while waiting-and shivering, the other participants and I were treated with the appearance of not one, but two hot-air balloons taking off nearby and then flying overhead.
Soon after, Chad, Pattie, Chris P and Lisa L showed up and we got going. The cold penetrated my fingers and legs but was worst on my cheeks. But it wasn't long before I forgot about it and paid more attention to spinning along with the group.
I confirmed with Pattie that she was expecting to ride at an endurance pace today: she is riding in the Kona Ironman in a few weeks and this was her last century before the taper. Good, I should be able to keep up with her then. This was to be Chad's first century and I knew Lisa was apprehensive about keeping up. So, I didn't think I would set any records for a 100 mile ride but thought I would be going at a respectable pace.
Just like last year, an ambiguous road marking led us and many others (20+) the wrong way for a couple of miles. Lisa realized the error, got us turned around and going the right way again.
At about mile 20 or so, I made sure Chad knew I would stick with him if he started to flag. But then I noticed that Lisa was nowhere in sight, so I doubled back to find her struggling up a climb a short ways back.
I kept her company and thought we could reel in the others if she could stay on my wheel but by mile 35 she was starting to cramp or have spasms in her quads. After a little discussion about what she could do about it (drink more water, take some donated electrolytes, etc.) she decided to press on to the first rest stop at 52 miles.
She did pretty well on the flats and of course, could coast down the descents but it was very slow going on the hills, both of us in our easiest gearing and plodding up at a very low cadence (50-60 rpm, sometimes less). And the biggest climb awaited us after the rest stop.
Lisa's cramping got so bad, on one hill, she got off her bike and walked it up.
About 10 miles from the rest stop, I was descending pretty quickly behind and to the right of another cyclist when the two of us came up fast behind a third rider, who was poking along in the middle of the road, where it started to curve to the left. It was the bottom of a pretty steep hill and it doesn't make sense that anyone could be going all wobbly slow like that after descending such a big hill. I mean, he was going like 10 mph in the middle of the road.
It all came off pretty fast but the descending rider in front of me started to pass the slowpoke on the left (he may have even called "on your left") and as he did, I prepared to pass same slowpoke on the right. I should have called "on your right".
Well, wouldn't you know, ol' slowpoke suddenly realizes a bunch of cyclists are bombing down this hill and he's in the frigging way out there in the middle of the road so he decides to swerve to the right just as I am coming by, driving me to the sand-covered shoulder of the road which is rapidly curving to my left. Ahead of me, beyond the shoulder, is a torn up section of rocks and dirt. All at once, I put on the brakes, yell, "JEBUS!" and end up on my left side, sliding along in the sand.
Slowpoke keeps pedaling along, saying, "sorry" as he put-putted on down the road. He didn't even stop to see if I was ok. Douche.
I turned out to be fine. A few other riders asked how I was, which was appreciated. Lisa rode up and I checked out myself and my bike. Damage: 10 day old bar tape scuffed almost down to the handlebar, left pedal ground down on the outside, left calf suffered some road rash. I'm pretty lucky that's all it was.
I didn't see Mr. Road Hazard later when we arrived at the rest stop. It was a few minutes after noon. Lisa decided that she would keep on going and reassess when we got to the 75 mile rest stop. First thing I did was peel off the arm warmers and base layer: it was pretty warm out by that point. I loaded up on PBJ's and Fig Newtons, replenished my drink and made sure Lisa was well fueled before we started up again.
Of course now we had to face "big climb" for this ride. I told Lisa to take her time and I would ride up to the top, turn around, ride back down to where she was and ride up again with her. She actually made the climb without stopping or walking. Progress. As for me, this particular hill is not as tough as Mile Hill Road on the way to Wawa.
We continued along, Lisa seeming to freshen up a bit on the flats but still having no horsepower for the hills. I'm sure the pain came on the instant she started up any incline. I continued to ride up the hills at my pace and either wait for her at the top or double back to meet her and go up again. Even though I wasn't going at the pace I would have preferred, I was getting extra climbing miles under my belt.
We arrived at the second rest stop just before 2 pm fueled/watered up and left. ETA to finish at this point, in my mind, was 4pm.
Lisa really seemed to be doing better, it certainly helped her to know that there wasn't any more substantial climbing to do. On the flats, she was comfortable keeping a 20 mph pace and she even took the lead for long periods of time. Still, any incline over a few dozen yards long slowed her to a crawl.
When we got to Westford, I started thinking about the things I had to do after the ride: a good sign that I was ready for it to be over.
Finally, we found ourselves back in Acton, rolling down Concord Road. The course goes across Rte. 27 and zig-zags it's way back to the high school but I steered us ON to 27 to shortcut us back a little sooner. We arrived back at 3:40 pm.
By the time I got home, I had been about a minute shy of 7 hours on the bike.